Bhakti and Power

9780295745510: Hardback
Release Date: 14th May 2019

9780295745503: Paperback
Release Date: 14th May 2019

25 b&w illus.

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 272

Series Global South Asia

University of Washington Press

Bhakti and Power

Debating India's Religion of the Heart

Hardback / £79.00
Paperback / £23.99

Bhakti, a term ubiquitous in the religious life of South Asia, has meanings that shift dramatically according to context and sentiment. Sometimes translated as “personal devotion,” bhakti nonetheless implies and fosters public interaction. It is often associated with the marginalized voices of women and lower castes, yet it has also played a role in perpetuating injustice. Barriers have been torn down in the name of bhakti, while others have been built simultaneously.

Bhakti and Power provides an accessible entry into key debates around issues such as these, presenting voices and vignettes from the sixth century to the present and from many parts of India’s cultural landscape. Written by a wide range of engaged scholars, this volume showcases one of the most influential concepts in Indian history—still a major force in the present day.

John Stratton Hawley is Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement. Christian Lee Novetzke is professor of South Asian studies and comparative religion at the Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. He is the author of The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India. Swapna Sharma is senior lecturer in Hindi at Yale University. The contributors are Gil Ben-Herut, Divya Cherian, John E. Cort, Richard H. Davis, Shrivatsa Goswami, Phyllis Granoff, Eben Graves, David L. Haberman, Manpreet Kaur, Aditi Natasha Kini, Joel Lee, Kiyokazu Okita, Heidi Pauwels, Karen Pechilis, William R. Pinch, and Tyler Williams.

Bhakti in Indian vernaculars is not merely individual devotion, but an act of public participation, in some cases even a 'movement'— deeply implicated in the discourse of power in an nterrogative as well as affirmative way. This collection makes a very thought-provoking and much needed contribution to the study of this aspect of bhakti.

Purushottam Agrawal, Author, Padmavat: An Epic Love Story; former Chairperson, Centre of Indian Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU)

This fine collection of essays examines the complex relationship between Bhakti and power. The variant articulations refer to some teachings as alternatives to existing ones, or some as protests, and others as supportive of power. A study such as this implicitly nudges us to reconsider our typologies of Bhakti.

Romila Thapar, author of The Past before Us: Historical Traditions of Early North India

A welcome addition to the field of bhakti studies, South Asian devotionalisms, and South Asian religions and comparative religions more broadly.

Ramya Sreenivasan, associate professor, South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania

An important contribution to the historiographical issues regarding bhakti and the arena of bhakti studies.

Srilata Raman, author of Self-Surrender to God in Srivaisnavism: Tamil Cats and Sanskit Monkeys